Before we get too much further into the workings of RimWorld, we need to take a look at the different menus that pop up along the bottom because much of the following discussion is going to refer to them. Unfortunately, there’s a lot about these menus that I don’t yet know too much about.
Architect is, without a doubt, the most important menu of the bunch. It’s got all of the building options and command issuing options that will drive your expansion
While you can’t control colonists directly, you can issue Orders, which queue up work for the colonists to deal with.
Orders and work in general is FIFO: First in, first out. If you request the colonists to harvest trees, mine, and build solar panels, they’ll carry out the work in that order, so consider what work is of the highest priority and assign that first.
Most of these options can be performed on individual items in individual tiles by clicking on the item, and then clicking on the hotbar button that appears at the bottom of the screen. Using these menus, however, puts you into that mode, allowing you to drag a rectangle around a large map area to apply the Order to all relevant items in that boundary.
Certain actions require a Zone to be set, usually as a destination, but zones can also act as bounds that constrain or restrict activity. Once you set a zone, you probably won’t need to spend a lot of time in this menu aside from designating and removing zones.
Structure is as you’d expect: building walls and doors. The sub-menus are self-explanatory, so I won’t bullet them out here.
When you click on either the door (or auto-door if you have researched it) or wall, you’ll be given the option for which material to use to build it, based on what you know about. If you don’t have enough of that material (like raw marble, but no marble blocks) then the tooltip will tell you.
Missing: windows. Would be nice so that interior rooms aren’t so dark during the day.
My one beef with this game is that you can’t tell if a structure has a roof or not unless you switch to the Roof area menu. During my first game, I had the colonists deconstructing a building I no longer needed, but I didn’t remember to remove the roof first, causing it to hurt the colonists and damage the equipment underneath.
Production allows you to create tables and machines that allow your colonists to create new and better things. There’s a lot of different tables you can make, and like Structures, most are self explanatory in what they do. The pipeline should also be logical (butcher table > cook stove, for example).
The two items I want to call out are the Nutrient Paste Dispenser, and the Hopper. The Paste Dispenser takes raw materials (i.e. butchered meat or vegetarian fare) from a nearby Hopper and produces food. This is a very compact, general purpose way to feed your people, but they won’t like it. Unlike the Stove, there’s no requirement to use the Dispenser, so no skills are necessary. It does require power, however.
It does what the name on the box suggests it does: allows you to make furniture.
The most important item in this menu are beds. Your colonists sleep better in a bed, but will sleep on the floor if they have to (contributing to a sour mood). For the most part, single beds will work, but once colonists start pairing up (if they do), then you’ll need to create a Royal Bed for them. Also, beds placed in rooms with doors work better than communal living, because this isn’t summer camp.
Beds can be designated for different purposes. Your initial beds will be claimed by colonists, and they will return to those same beds each night. If you need to shuffle the colonists, you can (like when you upgrade to the Royal for couples) by clicking the bed and selecting the proper button from the hotbar menu at the bottom. You can also set aside beds specifically for prisoners, and beds specifically for medical use. Beds without assignment (not claimed, not assigned for a purpose) will be available for general use, which includes dumping NPCs you rescue who aren’t part of the colony.
Some furniture has special uses. Pet sleeping areas and beds corral pets into specific areas. Tables give colonists a better feeling about where they eat, because eating off the floor sours their mood (seriously). Lamps provide light when powered, and equipment racks will keep items safe from degradation, even when placed outside..
Sooner or later (more sooner than later), you’re going to need power to your colony. There’s three main options: Fueled generator (which takes matter like logs to run), solar panels (bulky and only work during the day), and wind (needs an open area, might not generate that much power).
You’ll want to add at least one Battery to your power source. Batteries store the energy generated so machines can run when something happens to your generator (like solar at night).
Batteries are connected to generators, and generators are connected to everything else in the colony via Power Conduits. These power lines can traverse walls and other obstacles so there’s no need to worry about placing them through areas where other object exist (like walls or sandbags or resource collection areas).
If you want to be able to control power flow, you can add a Power Switch somewhere along the line so that power can be turned off to several downstream points at once. Each endpoint connected to power, however, can be turned off individually, and requires a colonist to visit each and every endpoint to Flick the switch (Flicking is a Work panel checkbox, by the way).
As stated earlier, be sure to put a roof over your batteries. They explode when wet. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.
If you’re playing on a setting which allows for raiders, security will be a concern at some point. The most basic defense are Sandbags, which only slow your enemies as they try and cross. For additional protection you can add Deadfall Traps, automated turrets, or IEDs to booby-trap certain areas.
Floors are both aesthetic and functional choices. In order to remove a floor, you need to select the Remove Floor sub-men from this section, because you can’t Deconstruct them using any other menu.
Colonists react differently to the aesthetics of different floors. Although I haven’t confirmed it, I suspect that different floor types also play different roles in the functionality of the room. Having a dirt or natural floor where you put your food is going to result in issues, while having a sterile floor in a designated infirmary will help maintain health and recovery.
The joy menu is going to be important because colonists on a remote planet with nothing to do but work are going to get really cranky, really fast. Currently, you can create a Horseshoe Pin and Chess Table for enjoyment, and once you have cloth you can create a Billiards table.
Joy is something that colonists will engage in when they decide they need it, but you can schedule acceptable times using the Restrict menu.
As the seasons change, the weather will change as well. When you first select the spot for your colony on the map, you can review the temperature highs and lows in the info panel on the left. Choosing the arctic or desert areas will certainly require you to trend towards an opposing temperature as a rule, but for everywhere else, building a temperature management system is going to be critical for survival, and for keeping food fresh.
Campfires can be used to cook food, but is slow and inefficient. They also give off radiant heat. A powered Heater will generate more heat, suitable for placement inside living quarters.
For a heavy duty, you’re going to want the Cooler unit. This is like an A/C unit. You install it in a wall, and can then vary the temperature in increments of +/-2 or +/- 20 degrees. The Cooler unit is imperative for maintaining raw meat. Create a Structure with a zone that accepts Animal Corpses and Raw Animal, as well as Food, and then add a Cooler through the wall with the blue tinted side inside the Structure, red tinted side outside the Structure. Power it and then select the Cooler to use the hotbar menu to crank the temperature down to -18F (Celsius users…you can choose the units in the options, but whatever your home freezer is set for, set this the same). Set the priority for this Zone to be Critical, and all corpses, raw meat, and food items will be brought here.
If you want to create your own Donner Party, also allow Human Corpses and meat. Otherwise, any raiders you kill will be brought in here, and will hang around forever.
Vents allow the climate of one room to affect the climate of an adjacent room with attenuated effects over distance. Since temperature cannot affect rooms through walls or doors, vents can be used to cool down living quarters that share a wall with a freezer, for example. However, vents have no controls, so you wouldn’t be able to shut a vent in the winter when you don’t want adjacent rooms to be cooled from the freezer (though I did see a mod for that on Steam Workshop).
Misc and Ship Menus
I haven’t really used either of these, but you can set up Beacons which will attract trading ships that you can trade with. Miscellaneous allows you to create Sun Lamps for 24 hour growing, and eventually you’ll probably need graves for the unavoidable consequence of Living.
As alluded to in other posts and sections, the Work menu is used to control who can do what tasks.
Why not have all colonists be able to handle all tasks, you ask? There’s a few reasons, according to the wiki. The first is that the designation that a colonist has plays a part in what Work they’re willing to do. Nobles, for example won’t do “menial” labor, while Settlers won’t be working on Intelligent tasks like research. The second is that since you don’t directly control your colonists, you can never be really sure what tasks they’re going to go after. If everyone could Chop, for example, then the whole colony would get to chopping a designated area and wouldn’t be hunting or researching when you want them to.
The Work panel allows for a division of labor by assigning what tasks are OK for a colonist to perform. You put a green check mark in the box when it’s OK for them to take an action, and remove it when you don’t want them to take an action. In addition, certain tasks will contain either zero, one, or two flame icons. The more flame icons a box has, the more interested in that task the colonist will be, allowing them to respond and complete the task faster.
Restrictions are another tool to get colonists to do what you need them to do, when you need them to do it. It’s also a way to reward them and not destroy them artificially.
Each colonist has a row in a grid, and each column is an hour of the day, totalling 24 individual columns. In the upper left corner are four different states: Unassigned, Work, Sleep, and Joy. Work, sleep, and joy should be obvious, but Unassigned means that the colonists can do whatever they want during that time, including what you need done, or just…wandering off to look at the landscape.
You assign duties in one of these four categories by clicking the category in the upper left, and then in the box for the colonist and hour they should be doing that task. You can drag vertically and horizontally with the same category selected. Sleep and Unassigned are set by default, making colonists not the most productive critters when you start. I usually switch Unassigned with Work, and add some Joy sections to the early morning, afternoon, and late afternoon before bedtime.
You can also set Areas here. Colonists already have areas to which they’ll pay attention, but you can have them pay attention to those areas only during certain times of day. You can also define new areas here, but will need to switch to the Zone/Area > Allowed Area menu to define those areas on the actual world map.
The Assign menu allows you to set outfits for colonists. Sadly, this isn’t like The Sims, but is actually quite important for those colonies in seasonally challenged areas.
Once the colony has additional clothing types researched and constructed, you can define a clothing set here for the colonist to wear during certain seasons. For example, you would want to research and construct Parkas for the Winter season. Once defined as an outfit, the colonists who own those outfits will change their own clothes as the climate demands.
Except Nudists. Colonists with the Nudist trait will only wear headgear, because I guess that’s allowed by the Pan-Galactic Nudist Convention of 5487 bylaws.
The colony usually starts with one domesticated animals. At the start, there’s no real purpose for this creature except that it’s kind and roams the home area.
Depending on the type of animal, however, colonists can train the creature to perform useful duties like Attacking, Rescue, and Hauling. First, though, you need to have a colonist become the animal’s handler (who is usually the colonist with the best Animals skill, since they choose to perform that role), and once the colonist achieves that, they can start training the creature to perform the tasks in the grid which have green checkmarks.
Not all animals can perform all tasks. A terrier can’t haul, for example, but a tamed timber wolf can. You can attempt to tame pretty much any animal on the planet, I believe.
The Factions panel shows you where you stand with other groups on the planet. Depending on the type of Storyteller and setting you chose, you may see more of the harmful factions than you’d otherwise like.
Friendly factions will pass through your area, and will either mill around aimlessly for a while, or will appear in the form of a Trade Caravan. You can use whatever Silver you have as a currency to buy items from these traders, which when you start will probably be the only way to get additional medicines and advanced weapons. Not all caravans trade the same things, so if you see something you want, don’t hesitate to buy it if you can afford it. You can also sell to caravans for cash, which can be used to buy items from them, or other caravans later on.
A map of the world! In case you want to remember what it looks like from space. Other than that, it has no function, currently.
The History panel shows you graphs over time, for those who are interested in that kind of thing (which I am not, usually).
Statistics shows you all kinds of numbers related to your game settings and Things That Went Down.
Research has two tabs: What you know, and what you don’t know yet. The Don’t Know Yet tab will be accessible through the Research Table and allows you to select new items to research. The amount of time it takes to research is based on the researcher’s Research skill (yes, really).
Here’s where all of the system items are hiding: Load, Save, Settings, Quit to Main Menu, and Quit the Game.